My first experience with spoken word was on local television from Albert Nyathi’s infamous Spoken word piece ‘Senzelina’. A few years later without as much noise I found myself watching another spoken word piece ‘Dambudziko’ performed by a Mbira band. With all its subtleties it became one of the early influences that motivated me to pursue poetry.
The first time I watched Benita Tarupiwa’s ‘Dambudziko’ was when I was no older than eleven and the creative in me seemed to have been waiting for that precise moment. Looking back now I realise I was always an artist in my own right but I just did not realise. Growing up I would spend an hour or two in our backyard garden singing off tune melodies and thinking up wondrous stories with grand plots and illustrious characters. It was my weekend routine and it was only until I watched the spoken word piece that I understood that I could choose to perform for an audience.
In primary school I was involved in school plays and dance groups but I never took it seriously. Writing and performing poetry had not crossed my mind; I don’t think that I was even sure what poetry was then. Even though I was motivated after watching the spoken word piece I did not jump at the opportunity straight away. I did though begin to want to write more, to experiment with words more and I read more to know more.
It was possibly this unquenched desire to know more that pushed me to write poetry and to pursue performance poetry. The first opportunity for me to perform my written work was when I was in lower six. I was encouraged to take part in a spoken word schools competition in 2007. My jittery try out, turned out to be a first step to a series of tries on stage and on paper.
With anything there are first resolutions, first steps and first tries, I had ‘Dambudziko’ and that set me on a path to discovering the writer and the performer. Choosing to take to the stage pushed me to look at myself differently and to start to write in order to listen to myself. Each time I performed, made mistakes and tried again I began to slowly discover the strength I did not realise I possessed. The words I wrote stopped being just words to say but words to think over, they soon resonated within me and now I let them lead me forward.
Someone once said “I write for myself” well I say “I write to listen to myself and I perform to remember those words”.
Writing has become an adventure, my constant source of information and a continuous conversation I have with myself. Just as I was the nervous girl who took to the stage a few years ago, slowly I have found the strength to say to the world ‘I am my mind, my voice and I am my spirit’
I now know that art is what the observer sees and that is all that matters anyway. I and so many other artists create without a specific idea of how we influence others. Even with that in mind it is still alright because what art creates is not constant nor is it defined and we the artists should never believe that we completely define that which we create.
I have grown to know myself through my words and I am finding my way from that first moment I watched ‘Dambudziko’. I know that there will be more moments of epiphany to come and I will never stop growing and I will never tire of learning.
I had to watch a poetry performance to realise my potential but I had to find more than just poetry to find my voice and to find my way. I had to find myself and to grow the belief in my potential. I know that I am growing every day that I write and every time I stand to perform. I have learnt that nothing in life is a mistake or a coincidence, each and every moment I have faced is shaping me into the woman I want to be.